Vulvodynia--There is Hope
You May Find Relief...
At Home Yeast Test
A Pain in the ....
For centuries, women have suffered needlessly. In our modern age, with our abundant technology, research, and more widespread access to healthcare, one would think this suffering would remain in the past. Not so. Conditions like vulvodynia and the often accompanying vulvar vestibulitis cause women tremendous pain, and all too often doctors are either stumped by how to treat them, or deny the existence of a woman's suffering without clear cut symptoms.
Chronic burning, pain, itching, redness, and irritation in the vulvar region without a documented cause (STD, BV, trichomoniasis, or allergy) are defined as vulvodynia and/or vulvar vestibulitis.
Possible Causes of Vulvodynia
At this time, there's no definitive answer on what causes vulvodynia. Allopaths and naturopaths often disagree on origins and treatment options.
Theories on what causes vulvodynia include:
- Nerve injury or irritation
- Abnormal response in vulvar cells to an infection or trauma
- Genetic factors that predispose the vulva to respoding poorly to inflammation
- Hypersensitivity to yeast infections (candidiasis)
- Muscle spasms
- Allergies or irritation to chemicals or other substances
- Hormonal changes
- History of sexual abuse
- Frequent antibiotic use
I'm most inclined, personally, to agree with sensitivity to yeast (not all yeast strains will show up on cultures or produce the typical cottage cheese variety of vaginal discharge), hormonal influence, and allergies. Frequent antibiotic use contributes to proliferation of yeast, so the two can go hand in hand. Removing allergy and yeast causing foods from one's diet can help symptoms of vulvodynia. Food allergies and systemic candidiasis can cause widespread body inflammation, so it stands to reason that if these two factors are removed, the body is going to undergo a considerable degree of healing.
SIMPLE and FREE CANDIDA SALIVA TEST
"How do you know if you have candida? This saliva test is a good indicator of candida and you can do it yourself!" I found this test at http://www.stopyeast.com/saliva.html. It's simple to do and free. I know it's not a foolproof method, and I would prefer have a lab check one's saliva or blood sample for yeast, however, if finances are a concern (and when aren't they?) or your doctor is less than cooperative with ordering tests to check for yeast without definitive symptoms other than vulvovaginal pain, give the test at right a try. If your test shows yeast or your feel yeast in contributing to your vulvodynia (and I feel that most of us would benefit from trying to eradicate yeast in our bodies), there are a few ways to clear it from our systems and allow our bodies to heal. Caprylic acid supplements, pau d'arco tea, and garlic are all potent yeast killers. It's important to note that when one's body's yeast dies off, one will initially feel unwell. This is known as a Herxheimer reaction. Yeast is a living organism, and our bodies are feel the toxis created as these organisms die. This feeling is temporary. A diet rich in vegetables and water will help ease the discomfort. It is crucial to abstain from sugar, dairy, and refined carbohydrates to eliminate --and not continue to feed--your yeast.
Topical estrogen cream--whether estradiol or estriol (although estriol is much, much weaker)--applied to the labia minora and vaginal orifice can provide relief for vulvodynia in as little as two weeks. The lowest dose should be used and only increased if symptoms do not abate. Even though relief from pain is the ultimate goal, patience (while difficult) is key. The estrogen found in the Pill called ethinyl estradiol does not have the same benefits as bioidentical estrogen, and also has a myriad of side effects. When in doubt, go natural. Sadly, there is no instantaneous hormone restoration. It, personally, took me about three weeks of daily use before pain abated. I was also careful to avoid wheat and dairy, which I know my body is sensitive to. I used small amounts (.6 mg) of bioidentical estradiol cream (prescribed by my hormone restoration specialist). I have also found that adding one cupful of apple cider vinegar to a full bath can help, but only after about a week or two of estrogen use. ACV normalizes vaginal flora and soothes irritated vaginal tissue. Any other type of vinegar can contribute to yeast proliferation.
Perimenopause and menopause can make the condition worse, as this when hormone levels decline. However, young women are also at risk. I first noticed pain when I was only 19. My ovarian output of hormones has always been abnormally low. Modern diet and environmental, as well as genetic influences, can predispose you to low ovarian hormone output. This results in a multitude of problems, two of which are vulvodynia and vulvar vestibulitis. If you are suffering, ask to have your hormone levels checked at your next ob-gyn visit, and ask for a copy of the results. Mid-luteal (around day 21 of your cycle) estradiol levels below 90 and mid-luteal progesterone levels below 10 indicate your body is not functioning at optimum levels. If your doctor won't test your hormones, you can test your own levels through ZRT labs online (www.zrtlab.com). The company will send you blood and/or saliva collection kits (very easy to use) and you can choose what you want tested, depending upon your budget. I have used them many times, and they are very reliable. The ZRT physician's report, sent to you with your results, explains what they results indicate and what possible steps you can take to correct them.
I wish you good luck and good health.